Russell wary of resurgent Little
When Janieve Russell strode to the gold medal in the 400 metres hurdles at the 2012 World Junior Championships, one of her rivals crashed and burned.
Now, that same girl is a real threat to Jamaican designs on gold in next year's Olympic Games in Rio. That girl is long-legged Shamier Little of the United States, the runner-up at the 2015 World Championships in Beijing.
Russell was well clear when Little fell at the last hurdle in the 2012 World Junior final, but the bespectacled American has bounced back in style. With her personal best tumbling from 57.44 in 2012 to 53.74 this year, Little has won almost everything in sight since that fall.
Twice she has won the NCAA title for Texas A & M University, and last year, she returned to win the World Junior title. This summer, she picked off the USA national title and the gold medal at the Pan-American Games in Toronto.
Her silver-medal run in Beijing was the 20-year-old American's first loss of 2015.
Russell, who set a personal best of 54.64 seconds in fifth place there despite an injured knee, holds Little in high regard.
"Yes, I'm very happy for her," the University of Technology standout said recently.
"She had a rough season the year before, 2014, having a lot of injuries, coming back this year stronger and better," Russell said.
"It was very great to see her out there,"she continued. "I hope to compete with her at the Olympic Games 2016."
The USA seems to be amassing a deep crew of quality female 400-metre hurdlers. Little and Cassandra Tate were second and third behind Czech star Zuzana Hejnova in Beijing.
The Americans also have 2015 World Youth Champion Sydney McLaughlin, who clocked a stunning time of 55.28 seconds before her 16th birthday in August.